This week’s Herald column: the Radical Party

This week’s column takes on a familiar foe … The newly — well, relatively newly, radicalized GOP. A clip:

Republicans control the House of Representatives, but their speaker, John Boehner, cannot govern it. Under Boehner, the 112th Congress has passed fewer pieces of legislation than any Congress since 1947. Boehner has gaveled in about one-third of the number of roll calls as Nancy Pelosi did, when she led the 111th Congress to be the most productive since the 1965 Congress that passed Medicare and the Voting Rights Act.

On tax cuts, their radicalism is so pristine; the House was unable to even take a vote on their own leader’s proposal to shield the first million dollars of income from a 4 percent tax increase. The failure of Boehner’s “Plan B” to avert the fiscal cliff — the result of one of the few things Republicans did pass: the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes tied to sequestration — was the latest personal humiliation delivered to Boehner by his caucus. But to millions of Americans who are depending on unemployment insurance, who must file taxes in the coming months, doctors awaiting Medicare payments for their patients and those who are otherwise concerned about a second recession, Mr. Boehner’s pride is the least of their concerns.

Republicans couldn’t accept the president’s offer to spurn his winning campaign theme of raising taxes on income over $250,000 — raising the cap to $400,000.

Meanwhile, the right’s Big Ideas: slashing spending on the elderly and the poor, and tearing into Social Security and Medicare, are so unpopular, even their own base opposes them.

On the state level, Republicans control 27 state legislatures to the Democrats’ 17, and they have full control of 24 states, including the governorships. They control key blue and swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

But outside of the deep South, their presence seems to have helped keep those states in Barack Obama’s column in 2012.

Whether it’s Virginia’s bizarre push to force women to undergo invasive ultrasounds in order to exercise their right to an abortion, or Michigan’s Orwellian law allowing for the seizure of local governments by unelected “managers,” or Ohio’s thwarted attempt to roll back labor organizing rights, Wisconsin style, or Florida and Ohio’s all-out push to halt early voting, “backlash” has the been the operative word for those living under Republican state rule.

Throw in Michigan’s lame-duck purge of not just union rights, but also abortion rights, and it is becoming axiomatic that to be governed by Republicans is to learn of their radicalism.


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